Posted by PDG Dennis Shore
Our assignment was to represent RI President Ian Riseley and Juliet at the District 3190 Conference.
At the District's suggestion we asked for, and received, approval to visit the District before the Conference, which after all was on a ship cruising out of Singapore. This entailed travel to Singapore (with Qantas) and then by Jet Airways to Bangalore (now called Bangaluru). The locals refer to it as Pensioners' Paradise but these days it is a thriving IT centre and the pensioners are probably being edged out. Unlike our stereotypical view of India, Bangaluru is green and relatively clean. It has its share of fine buildings and temples and, as we found out, some amazing Rotary projects.
Photos: Lynda and Dennis with a bust of Paul Harris, and with DG Asha Kumar and Prasanna.
The plane arrived behind schedule (apparently normal for Jet Airways) and late in the evening. The Airport was relatively modern and large (said to be the largest international airport in India).
Despite the late hour we expected our Aides to be there but so was the DG and partner and several others. We were immediately draped in large floral leis and whisked off to our hotel, the Shangri-La, where we had a lovely corner room. It was not quite to bed for us as we had to mix for a while in a get to know you session.
Getting into the hotel is not like at home, with strict security, vehicle barriers and careful inspection but we were pleased to know that we were secure.
Our plan for our stay was to visit a lot of Rotary projects and go to the DG's home town of Tumkur to see more projects. The plan was immediately abandoned due to a strike and concerns that it could get really ugly so we were confined to the hotel until mid-afternoon. Fortunately there was a Palace nearby (home to a Rajah in years gone by), which we could reach without too much exposure to the possible mobs. These days it mainly hosts lavish weddings where there may be several thousand guests. We were taken around on a private tour and enjoyed our release from hotel detention.
It was then time to hit the road to visit some local projects, which totally changed any preconceptions we may have had. These were magnificent examples of the great work that Rotary can do. The loss of most of the day meant that we did not spend as much time as we might have visiting the projects, but the traffic was modest, which still allowed us to make respectful visits.
Whatever views we may have had of Rotary in India, certainly for D3190 we came away inspired and motivated by the scale and scope of the amazing work that they do.
Due to the impact of the strike our first official function was to be the Council of Governors dinner held in our honour. They have some seriously amazing PDG's.
Before the dinner we had a quick look at a few landmarks along the way, followed by a visit to the hospice and after the dinner a late trip to the Blood Bank.
The Blood Bank was an interesting visit where we learned that it represented not just a triumph of fund raising, but also overcame a significant cultural impediment. In fact the District has gone onto achieve the Guinness record for most blood collected in a day.
There is now also a tissue matching lab and we got to meet visiting experts from Boston who have been coming for years to assist.
The next day after our visit to the DG in Tumkur we had the opportunity to visit what is locally called the Nephrology Centre where the poor and needy have access to life-saving renal dialysis.